ISAO COVID-19 Updates

UMKC continues to work hard to make decisions and accommodations to be able to open campus and resume in-person functions with the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff in mind. Get the most recent UMKC Campus updates here.

We know your needs as international students are made more complex by visa regulations and for some, travel. Please explore the information below for updates related to ISAO services and questions you may have regarding the impact of COVID-19 on your enrollment at UMKC as an international student.

How to Contact ISAO during Campus Closure Updated July 28, 2020

UMKC’s campus and the ISAO office remains physically closed for the summer semester.

In an effort to ensure we are providing the most accurate information while we work remotely, we have determined that email correspondence will be the most reliable form of communication with our students. Please continue to send any questions or concerns to ISAO via email to isao@umkc.edu.

If you call and leave a voicemail message, please be sure to leave us your full name and ID number slowly and clearly so that our team can find your email address and reply to your questions via email.

If you would feel better talking about your situation with an immigration advisor, we are still available to meet with you via Zoom. Please send your appointment request by email to isao@umkc.edu and we will get your appointment scheduled with an advisor.

Beginning August 3rd, ISAO will resume limited in-office services:

  • Phone services (8am-5pm Monday through Friday)
  • Document pick-up services (by appointment only

F-1 Status and Online Classes Updated July 28, 2020

On Wednesday, July 15th, the newly released SEVP  guidelines for F-1 students in regards to online enrollment were rescinded by the US government. An update was provided on July 24th as follows:

Continuing F-1 students currently inside the U.S.
If you were in valid F-1 status in the spring 2020 semester and are continuing your studies in active F-1 status this fall, you will be allowed to enroll in as many online courses as needed/desired in the fall 2020 semester.

  • This means you can take any combination of classroom based, blended, or online coursework, including a course load of 100% online coursework, in fall 2020
  • Full-time enrollment is still required in order to maintain F-1 status:
    • 12 hours for undergraduate and ALI students
    • 9 hours for graduate and doctoral students
    • An FTE Form can be submitted for under-enrollment as long as you are eligible for one of the reasons listed on the FTE form

Continuing F-1 students who will be outside the U.S. for fall 2020
If you were in valid F-1 status in the spring 2020 semester but are currently unable to return to the U.S. for fall 2020, you may maintain your F-1 visa status this fall as long as you meet the following two requirements:

  • You must be enrolled full-time for the fall 2020 semester:
    • 12 hours for undergraduate and ALI students
    • 9 hours for graduate and doctoral students
    • An FTE Form can be submitted for under-enrollment as long as you are eligible for one of the reasons listed on the FTE form
  • You must obtain an updated I-20 which includes the following statement in the remarks:
    “Outside the United States due to COVID-19”

    • Please submit a Request for Documents noting your intent to study full-time outside the U.S. this fall as your reason for requesting an updated I-20 in order to receive this updated document

The ISAO Advising team will keep you updated regarding any SEVP announcements or changes for the fall semester.

Potential Mid-Semester Changes to Courses Updated July 28, 2020

UMKC is aware of the need to remain flexible and adaptable throughout the fall semester. All coursework, regardless of format (in person, blended/hybrid, or online) should have all necessarily elements of the course available online, including but not limited to lectures, assignments, and final exams.

While we hope that campus will remain open for the entirety of the fall semester, we also hope students have everything they need in place in a digital format to be successful with academic coursework on campus, as well as from home.

F1 students will no longer be negatively impacted by a decision to close campus at any point in the fall semester. That guidance has been rescinded and is no longer in effect.

Mailing/Shipping Options Updated July 28, 2020

Beginning August 3rd, ISAO will resume limited in-office services, which include the option of picking up documents in person – by appointment only.

UPDATE: SEVP has confirmed the continued issuance of digital I-20 documents. UMKC is required to reissue new I-20s to all students.  You will receive an emailed copy of your updated I-20 by August 4. If you would like a hard copy original of the I-20, you will be able to request an appointment to retrieve it from our office starting in August.

SEVP recently gave permission for universities to send I-20 documents digitally. When you request an I-20 for any reason, we will send you a password-protected PDF of your I-20 by email to your UMKC email account once the I-20 has been prepared.

 Please note that we still highly recommend that you request your hard-copy original I-20 in the following situations:

  • If you requested a travel endorsement signature on your I-20
  • If you have added an F-2 dependent to your immigration record

No matter the reason for your I-20 request, you can request shipping of your original I-20 document – having an original I-20 will always be preferred over having only a copy. You will be notified of your shipping options in the email that includes the PDF copy of your I-20.

 

USCIS Applications with ISAO’s Office Address Updated June 22, 2020

If you used ISAO’s address as your mailing address on an OPT application or other application to USCIS, please note the following:

  • This change primarily affects our current OPT applicants who are waiting for their EAD cards.
  • An ISAO employee will retrieve mail on a very limited basis, meaning there will likely be delays in notifying you that we’ve received your document.
  • Once we’ve received your document, you will receive an email from isao@umkc.edu letting you know it is available and your shipping options.

If you’d prefer to change your mailing address with USCIS, please note that the change may take 1-2 weeks to be processed. You can visit USCIS’s website for instructions on how to change your mailing address on your application: https://egov.uscis.gov/coa/displayCOAForm.do

We do not recommend changing your mailing address with USCIS if you submitted your OPT application in February or early March, as the delay in processing your address update may cause confusion with your EAD card shipping.

Travel Outside of the US Updated June 22, 2020

This is a difficult time for anyone to travel anywhere in the world, but there are some extra considerations for international students needing to travel:

Will your visa expire soon (within the next 6 months)? If so, you should have a plan in place for requesting an extension or renewal of your visa before attempting to return to the US.

 Do you have a travel endorsement signature on your I-20? This is located on the 2nd page of your I-20 and is valid for 6 months while you are a current student. If you don’t have a signature, or if your signature has expired, reach out to ISAO and we will send you a Travel Endorsement Request form.

 Have you talked with your academic advisor about your ability to travel? We recommend doing this so that if you are unable to return to the US, you can create a plan for continued enrollment. ISAO is aware of the difficulty many students are facing in trying to schedule flights to return to Kansas City for the fall semester. You may be able to work with your academic advisor to create a schedule of online courses and plan to travel back to Kansas City for the spring semester.

Return to Campus from Abroad and Self-Quarantine Updated June 22, 2020

Have you planned your travel dates to allow for a 14 day quarantine upon arrival?

UMKC is encouraging students to follow CDC guidelines and self-quarantine for 14 days after international travel if returning the the US from abroad. In order to begin classes on time, we recommend arriving in Kansas City no later than August 9th to allow time for self-quarantine.

Contact Tracing: We understand that upon arrival you may have tasks to complete to meet your living needs prior to beginning self-quarantine. It may be helpful to record the date, time and location of your errands should you or others traveling with you test positive for COVID-19.

Useful resources for grocery and food delivery include:

Hyvee Delivery (grocery)
Walmart Delivery (grocery and home supplies)
Instacart (grocery)
Shipt (grocery)
Ubereats (restaurant)
Doordash (restaurant)
Grubhub (restaurant)
Amazon may also have some non-perishable groceries and household supplies with one or two day delivery.

Health Insurance Updated June 22, 2020

F-1 and J-1 students enrolled at UMKC are enrolled in Aetna’s Student Health plan. Aetna has developed their own COVID-19 page for people insured by their plans, which outlines the additional coverage they are offering to members at this time. They are specifically encouraging members to take advantage of their “telemedicine” option as a first line of defense if you feel sick and think you need to see a doctor. This option is available to Aetna members free until September 30, 2020. More information about this option and other guidance from Aetna can be found on their dedicated website here, and this link has also been added to ISAO’s own Health Insurance page.

Helpful Links and Resources

SEVP Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)  found in the last drop-down on ICE’s COVID-19 page under “Nonimmigrant Students and SEVP-Certified Schools”

USCIS Response to Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)providing updates related to Field Office (biometrics) appointments, responses for Requests for Evidence (RFEs), office closures, etc.

The US State Department Exchange Visitor (J-1) Program Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

NAFSA tracking US visa and entry restrictions related to COVID-19, which covers both travel restrictions into the US as well as interruptions/closures affecting visa services in US Embassies and Consulates around the world